Do bees have a use for smartphones? Sure: Bee researchers have found a way to harness a smartphone’s accelerometer technology to predict when the queen honeybee will leave her hive–thereby allowing keepers to thwart the loss of up to half their bees.
In a phenomenon known as “swarming,” the flight of a queen honeybee can lead to the loss of half of the hive. As the queen bee makes her exit, many of the bees follow their leader–and with the departure of both its queen and half of its workers, the remaining hive is severely weakened. But if beekeepers know when the queen bee will leave, they can attract the departing bees with another, strategically positioned hive.
The art of predicting when a queen honeybee will leave has a long history. “In the spring time, many clues … demonstrate the proximity to swarming, such as the presence of more or less mature queen cells,” the researchers explain in their paper. “In spite of this the actual date and time of swarming cannot be predicted accurately…” But that was before beekeepers harnessed the power of smartphone technology.